Using Data Visualization and Usability to Enhance End User Reporting – Part 2: Usability

In this second part of my blog series, I’ll be looking at usability and what it really means for report design.

Usability takes a step back and looks at the interactions users have with reports. This includes how users actually use the reports, what they do next, and where they go. If users refer to another report to compare values or look at trends, they should think about condensing these reports into a single report or even create a dashboard report with key metrics. This way, users have a clear vision of what they need or what Oracle calls “actionable insight”. From there, users can provide other users with guided navigation paths based on where they actually go today.

With improved usability, users can review an initial report and easily pull up additional reports, possibly from a different system or by logging into the general ledger/order entry system to find the detail behind the values/volumes. With careful design, this functionality can be built into reporting and planning applications, to provide a single interface and simplify the user interactions.

Here is a real world example of how improved usability can benefit users on a daily basis: Often a user will open a web browser and an item is highlighted as a clickable link. Normally if you click on the link, it will open up in the same window, causing you to lose the original site that you visited. By clicking the back button, you can also lose the first site that you visited. With improved usability, clicking on a link would result in a new pop-up window, so when finished users are able to choose which windows to close and return to the original window.

The challenge with achieving improved usability, is that many organizations lack visibility into how users actually use reports, especially with users spread all over the world. One possible solution is for organizations to ask users about their daily activities. The issue here is that often users are uncomfortable discussing what they do and where they go online. Companies can overcome this challenge by enforcing sessions where they can ask leading questions including why users feel uncomfortable sharing their daily activities. These types of sessions can help organizations uncover the root causes/issues, giving them the insight to delve deeper to understand what lies behind the report request.

One common scenario where you could apply this approach is when users ask for a full P&L for their business units, so they can compare and ring anyone over budget.  By having a session to understand the users’ specific needs/daily activities, organizations can instead produce a dashboard that highlights the discrepancies by region. With this dashboard, there is no need to compare and analyze; users can open the dashboard and see the indicators with a click of a button. Users can drill down for more information while placing that call!

In conclusion, improved usability means helping users get to the answer quicker, without having to do a lot of unnecessary steps. The old adage is true – KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Using Data Visualization and Usability to Enhance End User Reporting – Part 1: Introduction

Throughout my experience on client engagements, I’ve encountered a common issue: reports. In Part 1 of my blog I will address the reporting challenge, highlight some key benefits of standardized reporting, and outline an approach for implementing a standard enterprise reporting system.

On some engagements, clients want to reproduce the same old reports they had in the previous system, assuming that if users were complacent before, they would be happy with the same reports going forward. This is not the case. On a recent project, the client was in the midst of replacing a 10 year old system. Several business users were not happy at the prospect of continuing with reports that were created a decade ago!   Other clients think that because the finance team has been getting the same reports for the past few years, that’s all they need.  This is another incorrect assumption. In many cases these reports are not being utilized and users may even be using Excel to manipulate and turn the reports into something more useful.  So why would you give users the same old reports, when, with a bit of foresight and planning, you can give them reports which enhance the way they do business and actually make it easier for them?

Some of the key benefits of an enterprise reporting system are:

  • Single version of the truth – everyone has the same revenue /cogs/opex numbers
  • Analysts have more time to analyze data and trends rather than consolidate data to make reports

And how do you enhance reporting and deliver added value to users?

To provide users with the necessary reports, it actually takes a multi-disciplined approach, focusing on usability and data visualization.  This assumes you have created the back end databases with appropriate structures to support your reporting needs.   It’s also critical to have a single definition for accounts and key metrics. This makes a big difference in reporting and getting everyone aligned to the single version of the truth you are about to create.

In Part 2 of my blog, I’ll look at usability and what it actually means for report design.

ORACLE HYPERION CALC MANAGER – Part 4 – Creating RuleSets

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced Calc Manager, providing a general overview and explanation of some new terms.  In the second post we walked through the development of a Planning rule that utilized a run time prompt.  Part 3 covered templates available with Calc Manager.

In this, the final post in this series, we’ll step through the creation of a ruleset.  Rulesets are equivalent to Business Rule Sequences in Hyperion Business Rules.

We’ll begin by logging on to Hyperion Workspace and navigating to Calc Manager.  Once in Workspace, the navigation path is:  Navigate -> Administer -> Calculation Manager.

Once in Calc Manager, you’ll land on the System View tab, which appears as follows:

 

Once again, I’ll use my EPMA enabled version of my Planning app based on Sample.Basic.

To create a new ruleset, right click on the “RuleSets” node under your Planning app and select New.  You’ll be prompted to give the ruleset a name.  I’ll name mine Process_Application.  Additionally, you can change the app/database for this ruleset in this dialog box.

After I click OK,  the following screen loads:

You can display the rules available for your rule set by expanding the tree until you see the rules for your database. 

To add rules to the ruleset, simply drag and drop them onto the Ruleset Designer on the right side of the screen.

By default, the rules will run sequentially.  If you wish for rules to execute in parallel, select the RuleSet name within the RuleSet designer.  Check “Enable Parallel Execution” on the Properties tab at the bottom of the screen.

In order to run the script, save, validate, and deploy to your Planning application.

The series of posts that we’ve put together this summer were designed to give a user a basic understanding of how to work with Calculation Manager.  With any new technology, its best to dive in and immerse yourself to speed through the learning curve – Calculation Manager is no different.  Take the opportunity to experiment with the tool.  I feel that you’ll find it easy to learn the basics and before long you’ll be developing your own rules.

If you have any questions about Calc Manager, please leave a comment on any of the posts in this series, or reach out to me via email at jrichardson@ranzal.com.

ORACLE HYPERION CALC MANAGER – Part 3 – Working with Templates

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced Calc Manager, providing a general overview and explanation of some new terms.  In the second post in the series, we walked through the development of a Planning rule that utilized a run time prompt.  In this post, we’ll explore templates provided within Calc Manager.

As with the Rule Designer, which is a great tool to help less experienced developers build rules, templates provide a simple way to develop rules for basic tasks in Planning and Essbase…tasks such as copying, clearing, exporting, allocating, and aggregating data.  In addition, you can design your own templates.

We’ll begin by logging on to Hyperion Workspace and navigating to Calc Manager.  Once in Workspace, the navigation path is:  Navigate -> Administer -> Calculation Manager.

Once in Calc Manager, you’ll land on the System View tab, which appears as follows:

Once again, I’ll use my EPMA enabled version of my Planning app based on Sample.Basic.

To access predefined templates, right click on “Rules”.  Once you give the rule a name, the graphical designer is launched.  In the “Existing Objects” window, you should find a list of the pre-existing templates.  A list of the system templates follows:

CLEAR DATA

In order to use the system template to Clear Data, drag and drop “Clear Data” from the System Templates to the Rule Designer.  This will then invoke a member selection window asking you to specify the data to clear.  Keep in mind that this template generates a calc script utilizing the CLEARBLOCK command as opposed to a CLEARDATA command.

In my sample app, I select “FY11” for the Years dimension and “Final” for the Version dimension.  The dropdown box for “Clearblock Option” can be used to define the blocks to be cleared…”All” is the default.  The code that is generated appears below.

FIX ("FY11","Final")
  CLEARBLOCK ALL;
ENDFIX

COPY DATA

The Copy Data template helps to walk the calc developer through the process of copying data from one slice of the database to another.

In the remainder of the wizard, you select the “Copy From” member and the “Copy To” member.  The calc script generated follows:

FIX (@RELATIVE("Measures" , 0),@RELATIVE("Periods" ,0),@RELATIVE("Product" , 0),@RELATIVE("Market" , 0),@RELATIVE("Years" , 0),"Budget")
DATACOPY "Working" TO "Final";
ENDFIX

AMOUNT-UNIT-RATE

The Amount-Unit-Rate template allows the developer to build a calc script to solve for either an amount, unit, or rate, basically whichever is missing.  I’ve added a couple of measures to my application to facilitate the demo.  Using the member selection wizard, I’ve selected “Sales” as my amount, “Cases” as my unit, and “Revenue per Case”  as my rate.  The script generated by the template follows:

"Sales"(
  IF ("Sales" == #missing and "Cases" != #missing and "Revenue per Case" != #missing)
    "Sales" = "Cases" * "Revenue per Case";
  ELSEIF ("Sales" != #missing and "Cases" == #missing and "Revenue per Case" != #missing)
    "Cases" = "Sales" / "Revenue per Case";
  ELSEIF ("Sales" != #missing and "Cases" != #missing and "Revenue per Case" == #missing)
    "Revenue per Case" = "Sales" / "Cases";
  ELSE
    "Sales" = "Cases" * "Revenue per Case";
  ENDIF
)

ALLOCATIONS

Two types of allocation templates are provided within Calc Manager.  The first template, Allocate Level to Level,  allows you to allocate from one level to another.   In my example with my Planning app, you would use this template to allocate marketing expenses  from product family to product using a driver like revenue.  This approach utilizes @ANCESTVAL to build the script.

The second template, Allocate Simple, allocates values based on a predefined relationship, such as Marketing->Market * Cases/Cases->Market.

Both templates walk the developer through the setup of the allocations, selecting members that are fixed throughout the process, offset members (if any), etc.

AGGREGATION

The aggregation template aids the developer to create a script to aggregate the application.  The first screen of the wizard, pictured below, allows you to select members for the FIX statement in the aggregation – here you would limit the calc to a particular version, scenario, or your non aggregating sparse dimension members.

The next screen prompts for dense dimensions to aggregate.  However, if dynamic calcs are properly utilized, this should not be necessary.

The third screen asks for sparse dimensions for the aggregation.  You should exclude any non aggregating sparse dimensions from this selection.

Next, you’re prompted for partial aggregations of dense dimensions.  Again – if dynamic calcs are used properly, this should not be an issue.

In the final screen of the wizard, the developer selects settings for the script…

The code generated by Calc Manager follows:

SET AGGMISSG ON;
SET FRMLBOTTOMUP ON;
SET CACHE HIGH;
FIX (@RELATIVE("Years" , 0),"Working","Budget")
CALC DIM ("Product");
CALC DIM ("Market");
ENDFIX

Please note that this code is not optimized.  In this example, I would use the following:

AGG (“Product”,”Market”);

The code as generated by Calc Manager will result in an extra pass through the database – the calc can be accomplished with a single pass.  Additionally, AGG can be used in place of CALC DIM if there are no formulas on the dimensions being calculated.  Generally speaking, stored formulas on sparse dimensions should be avoided due to performance issues.

SET Commands

The next template walks the user through setting various SET commands for the calc.  This is a fairly straightforward exercise.

EXPORT DATA

This is another straightforward template that helps create a data export calc script.  You need to define the fixed members for the export,  delimiter, #MISSING value, export type (flat file, relational), etc.

In the final part of this series, due for posting on August 13, we’ll walk through the creation of a ruleset.  If you have any questions before the next post, please leave a comment!

ORACLE HYPERION CALC MANAGER – Part 2 – Creating a Planning Rule

In Part 1 of this series we introduced Calc Manager, providing a general overview and explanation of some new terms.  In this post, we will walk through the development of a rule for Hyperion Planning using the graphical interface within Calc Manager.

Again, in order to access Calc Manager, log on to Hyperion Workspace.  Once in Workspace, the navigation path is:

Navigate->Administer->Calculation Manager.

Once in Calc Manager, you’ll land on the System View tab, which appears as follows:

 

For purposes of this demonstration, I have created an EPMA enabled Planning application from the Sample.Basic application that we all know and love.  When the Planning node is expanded, this is what I see:

First, to help illustrate functionality available in Calc Manager, I’m going to create a script component that contains my standard SET commands for the rule.  In order to create the script component, right click on “Scripts” and click on “New”.  Give your script a name and click on “OK”.  This will launch the Component Designer.

From here, you have two options.  If you know what your SET commands need to be, you’re free to type them in directly.  If you wish to be prompted through the process, click on the  button at the top left corner of the Component Designer window.  This will launch a window with all of the calc functions and SET commands.  The following shot displays the function selection interface for SET commands.

For my purposes, I’m going to directly type my SET commands into the Component Designer.  Once complete, save and validate.

Think of script components as an easy way to reuse code…SET commands, standard cube aggregations and the like. 

Once we have saved the script component with our SET commands, it’s time to develop our rule.  To begin, right click on “Rules” under the database node and select “New”.    Give your rule a name and click on “OK”.  This will launch you into the Rule Designer window.

In this example, I’ll create a rule that aggregates the cube, using a run time prompt for the Version dimension.

We can now begin to develop our rule.  First, we’ll select the script component for our SET commands that we developed earlier.  Simply drag this into the rule designer to the right of “Start”.  The Rule Designer window now looks like this:

Let’s take this opportunity to create our variable for the Version dimension run time prompt.  Go to the “Tools” menu and select “Variables”.  Once the Variable Navigator launches, expand the Planning, application, and database nodes.  I’m going to create a run time prompt variable for the Version dimension.  Right click on your rule name and select “New”.  Once I populate the fields on the “Replacement” tab, my screen looks like this:

When complete, save the variable.  Now, back to our rule…

We’re going to specify members for our “Fix” statement.  To do this, select “Member Range” in the New Objects portion of the Rule Palette.  

To add to the rule, drag and drop to the right of the SET command script.  My screen looks like this:

Next, we’ll populate the members for our Fix statement.  I’ll start with Measures.  For my rule, I want to select all of the level 0 measures.  Once I click on the Value field for the Measures dimension, an Actions box appears. 

I want to select a Function.  This invokes the function selection window that we observed earlier.  I want to select @LEVMBRS from the list, which will then prompt for the dimension and level number.

I select Measures from the drop down box and enter “0” for the level name.  I’m going to repeat this process for all of my dense and non aggregating sparse dimensions, with the exception of the Version dimension.  This will be handled via the run time prompt.  For the Version dimension, select “Variable” in the Actions box.  Change the Category selection to “Rule” and this is what we see.

Highlight the variable and click OK.  My member range box looks like this:

Now, we’ll develop the script component to aggregate the Product and Market dimensions.  I’m going to drag a script from the “New Objects” portion of the Rule Palette into my member range.  The graphical display looks like:

Again, I’m going to select a function (AGG in this case).  I then select Products and Market from the dimension selector. 

Now, save and validate.  To deploy the rule to Planning, select Quick Deploy:

Once deployed, the rule can be run from Planning.

In this post, we’ve provided a walk through on developing a new rule using the graphical designer.  More experienced developers can directly code the calc in script mode.  To convert to script mode, select “Edit” and “Script” from the menu. 

In the next post, due by July 31, we’ll explore templates and ruleset creation.  In the meantime, please leave a comment if you have any questions!

Using Hyperion Essbase to Report Comparable Store Sales

One of the commonly used measures in the retail industry is “comps” – comparisons of actual sales for this year versus last year.  The goal of reporting comparable store is to provide information on what portion of a company’s sales comes from increasing sales growth in existing stores versus opening new stores.   This metric is used to measure whether a company’s sales will continue to grow when store base reaches a saturation point, or the company slows expansion.

What are the considerations in defining comp store calculation?

  • Definition of comp store. In addition to having a store open for at least 1 year, it’s important to compare stores that have not changed significantly.  In this case, we are using square footage in the store to identify significant changes to a store.  In our example, if square footage changes by more than 25%, sales are no longer comparable to prior periods.  Also, if the status of a store changes (i.e. opening, closing, moving, temporarily closing), comp store sales are not comparable with prior periods.
  • Definition of applicable time periods. In this case, we used month to date, quarter to date, and year to date.  Each applicable time period is calculated monthly.  The applicable time period amount is calculated only for stores open during the applicable period.  For example, the June YTD amount for 2010 is only calculated for stores in existence from Jan 2009.
  • Calculation of comp sales. Most clients prefer to remove the effects of currency translation on this calculation.  In this case, only net sales are used for comp store analysis.

Implementation

The database outline for the comp sales database contains the following 10 dimensions:

  • An individual store is uniquely identified as a member in the stores dimension.
  • Comp store amounts are only calculated for the comp stores scenario.  Actual data is loaded to the comp store scenario.

Below are sections of the accounts dimensions used for the comp store calculation.

The comp store control stats are used to calculate the comp status counter, which is the first determinant of whether a store is a comp store.

The comp store metrics hierarchy stores the applicable comp store amounts in local currency and USD.  Local currency comp store metrics show amounts for current year and prior year for MTD, QTD, and YTD.  USD comp store metrics show amounts at a constant exchange rate.

Approach

There are 2 different calculations for the comp store process:

  • The calculation of the comp store sales counter determines whether a store qualifies for comp store status based on square footage and store status.
  • The calculation of comp store metrics is dependent on the calculation of the comp store sales counter.  The metrics calculation determines comp store amounts.

The key processes for the comp store sales counter calculation are as follows:

  • Calculate monthly square footage amounts.  Set beginning balance equal to prior December.  Accounts calculated are: square footage, store status, and comp store counter.
  • Calculate monthly square footage change percent.
  • Calculate ending store status and comp store status counter based on inputs for square footage and change type (open, close, move).  The comp store status counter is used to identify qualification for comparable periods.

The following is an example of how the comp store status counter logic would be applied to a store.  Note that the store comp counter is incremented monthly once a store is open, but a change in square feet of the store resets the counter.  This is to assure that sales from the 2000 square foot store are not compared with the 3000 square foot store.

After calculating the store comp counter, the key processes for the comp store sales metrics are as follows:

  • Copy actual (a rollup scenario including general ledger amounts and adjustments) to CompStoreAnalysis  (another scenario).  This allows reporting comp store results in a single scenario.
  • Create blocks for every year based on prior year gross sales.
  • Calculate net sales current year and net sales prior year in local currency for each appropriate time period, based on comp store status counter and the applicable comp time period (MTD, QTD, and YTD).
  • To be included in QTD comps, a store must have a store status counter of 13 and have been in existence since the beginning of the current quarter last year.  For YTD comps, the store must have been in existence since the beginning of last year.
  • Calculate comp store sales in USD using the prior year rate.
  • Aggregate comp store metric amounts in the comp store analysis scenario by stores, products, geographies, and legal organization.

Note in the sample store shown above, comparable net sales on a MTD basis would be calculated for December 2008.  Amounts would be calculated both in local currency and USD.  The USD accounts are for current and prior year would use the same rate (last year’s).

Hyperion Financial Management: Zero View and Default View Settings

One of the most common areas of confusion in Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) has been the Scenario application setting for the Default View and Zero View.  Peering back into the history of Hyperion Solutions, you will find this setting has existed in all the Consolidation products, such as Hyperion Enterprise’s “missing values” setting under Categories.  They are not new features and are a fundamental to HFM.

ZeroViewForAdj and ZeroViewForNonadj

There are two ZeroView settings in HFM.  The ZeroViewForNonadj is a setting which applies to the <Entity Currency> Value dimension.   The second is the ZeroViewForAdj which applies a setting to the <Entity Curr Adjs> Value dimension member.

The derived data that results from the ZeroView settings commonly appears in HFM as a slightly grey numeric value, as opposed to a black display found with standard data.

Before we explain what it does, let’s talk about why we need it.

Part of Hyperion Financial Management’s financial intelligence is its Account Types.  These types help to manage data flowing through the chart of accounts and support variance reporting.

  • Revenue
  • Expense
  • Asset
  • Liability
  • Balance
  • Flow
  • GroupLabel
  • Currency
  • BalanceRecurring

The Revenue, Expense and Flow Account types are referred to as “flow” accounts and tend to support Profit and Loss reporting.  As such, they are supported by the View dimension.  The View dimension allows data to be viewed, keyed or loaded as YTD or Periodic amounts.  Data entered as periodic sales of $1000 to all months would allow users to view December as Periodic $1000 or YTD $12,000.

Example 1:

The ZeroView setting informs the HFM Scenario how to handle data for a flow account when no data is loaded to a Period.  No data is not a zero; it is a blank, non-existent value.

Example 2:

If data was loaded from your source system for Jan as $1000, how should HFM calculate Feb? There are two options using the ZeroView settings which are YTD or Periodic.  The first option is the YTD setting for the ZeroViewForNonadjs attribute.

Choosing the ZeroView setting as YTD, HFM will fill the period following with a derived value as zero YTD.

Example 3 ZeroView as YTD:

Recall that Flow accounts can be viewed as Periodic or YTD, what does Feb look like as Periodic?  If there is $1000 YTD in Jan and zero YTD in Feb, there must have been a change in periodic activity.  Therefore, the Feb Periodic value would be $-1000 to arrive at YTD zero.

Example 4 ZeroView as YTD:

The second option is to set the ZeroView settings as Periodic.  This setting addresses the same properties of flow type accounts.  In this instance, the following period will have a zero applied as a Periodic zero, which is the activity.  This setting is common on the Budget and Forecast Scenarios.  The data result is the entry flows through all the periods because the YTD value is derived from the Periodic activity.

Example 5 ZeroView as Periodic:

Example 6 ZeroView as Periodic:

How does one determine which setting is correct for their application?  Typically, we analyze how the data load file is constructed.  For example, for flow accounts that may be adjusted to zero, are they included in the file?  Does a periodic version of the file supply zero items as the year-to-date negative offset? The most common setting is to set the ZeroView as YTD for Actual data loads.

A good example why we would set the ZeroView to YTD in Actual would be if data was re-classed month-to-month or a new account is used.  In the example below, a different account is used in Feb compared to the data supplied in Jan.  The ZeroView setting as YTD will automatically assume the Feb amount is to be YTD zero.

Example 7 ZeroView as YTD:

If the Scenario was set to Periodic for the ZeroView, the application would have incorrect results for Feb as 2000.  The data would flow through all the Periods, and in this case, the Sales account should be zero for Feb.  The original account would require a -1000 Periodic or “0” YTD entries to clear the value in Feb on account Sales.

Example 8 ZeroView as Periodic:

The ZeroViewForAdjs setting applies to how HFM Journal entries will function for missing data and how they affect future periods.

For Journal adjustments we see the same impact on the data within the <Entity Curr Adjs> Value member.  The YTD setting will essentially reverse the Journal in the following period by applying the YTD offset to the Journal.

Example 9 ZeroView as YTD:

In cases were a prior period is being adjusted, the YTD setting will keep the YTD values of future Period, such as Feb, constant.  As an example, if the original value were 1000 in Jan and 1000 in Feb, the Feb YTD amount would be 2000.  A journal posted to Jan would impact the Jan results, but the Feb YTD amount of 2000 would not change.  In the example above, what is adjusted is the Periodic amount from 1000 to 500.  Therefore, to see the impact on all periods, the Journal would need to be created and posted in all periods going forward.

Journal adjustments with the ZeroView setting for Journals as Periodic will allow the impact of the Journal to affect the YTD results in the future periods.  Because of this, to reverse the affect in a future period a reversing Journal entry is required.

Example 10 ZeroView as Periodic:

Therefore, when viewing data within HFM as a YTD or Periodic view, the grey offset values are the result of your Scenario settings for ZeroViewForNonadjs or ZeroViewForAdjs.  These amounts impact your YTD and Periodic results in Local and Translated amounts.

Default View

The Default view determines what View will be applied to the “<Scenario View>”.  When opening a Grid, form or report, this is the default member that will display.

Because of this, it is important when writing reports or comparing data, a specific view be chosen.  The “<Scenario View>” results will vary by the design of each Scenario.

The default view also is a concern for Rules in HFM.  This setting sets the basis of calculations.

As an example, if there was a Rule that simply called for “estimated bonus” to be a percent of “sales” after we attained our goal of $1000.00, the calculation would vary by Default View on Scenarios.

In the example, the YTD Scenario will calculate a result because it is calculating Rules off the YTD value of $1500. The Periodic Scenario does not calculate the Rule because it is driven off the Periodic value of $500.

Careful attention to Rules development and the utilization of the Dynamic Sub Routine in rules can help to minimize issues caused by differences in the Default View settings.

Using Oracle’s Hyperion® Life Cycle Management

What is LCM?

LCM (Life Cycle Management) is a tool which can be used to migrate Hyperion applications, cubes, repositories, or artifacts across product environments and operating systems. It is accessed through the Shared Services Console.

Does it work?

After using LCM at a few clients I think the answer is a definite YES, but there needs to be a realistic setting of expectations:  Yes, LCM has some very good and handy uses; but NO, it is not necessarily going to be a painless, simple answer to your migration and/or backup needs.

What can I do with it?

You can use it for migrations:

  • One environment to another
  • One app to another (same SS environment)
  • Selected dimensions or other artifacts

And for backups/restores, including keeping two separate environments synchronized:

  • Selected artifacts
  • Lights-out

Products which can be migrated are:

  • Shared Services
  • Essbase
  • Planning
  • Reporting
  • HFM
  • The dimensions housed in EPMA

This blog is going to concentrate on using LCM for planning application migrations although, as you can see from the list above, it can also be used for other products as well.

First I’ll show how a migration is done, using screen shots, to give a detailed look.  Then I’ll point out things to look out for including things which will cause the migration to fail — with work-arounds where possible.

To migrate an entire Planning application, you will need to copy (4) areas:

  1. Shared Services
  2. Essbase (For Planning, only need the Essbase Global Variables.  All App/DB specific variables are migrated with the Planning Application)
  3. Planning Application
  4. Reporting and Analysis (if applicable)

The order in which you export these is not important but when doing the import, the order is very important.

Some important considerations:

  • Target app can have different name from source
  • Source and destination plan types must match
    • Can be changed by editing the files
    • Target plan types must be in same order as source
  • Start year must be the same
    • Number of years doesn’t need to match
  • Base time period must be the same
  • Target app’s Currency settings must match Source
  • Standard Dimension names must match
    • Can be changed by editing the files

When exporting any application it is advisable to just export everything.  If necessary you can be selective on the import side.

Start the process by opening the Shared Services console and go to the Application Groups –>Application (in this case – Shared Services under Foundation).

In the lower part of the screen, click “Select All” and then “Define Migration”

Now go through the screens:

Leave each field with an * and Choose “Next”

Type in a file name for the export.  It is advisable that you use a naming convention for this since you will end up with (possibly multiple) files for each application.

Review the destination options & click “Next.”

Finally, review the Migration summary and click “Execute Migration.”

NOTE:  If this process is going to be re-run in a lights-out environment you should instead choose the “Save Migration Definition” button.  I’ll discuss this more fully later on.

You will get this information screen.  Click Launch Migration Status Report to actually see the migration progress.

As long as the migration is running you will get a status of In Progress

Click Refresh to keep checking status (if desired) until you get a status of Completed or Failed.

All of the other applications can be exported this same way, each with slightly different screen sequences but generally the same process.

The primary differences will be for Planning and Essbase where, if there are other applications in the same Shared Services environment, they will be offered as possible targets for the export, in addition to the File System.  Selecting one of these will cause a direct migration from the source application to the selected target application.

After the exports are finished the LCM export files can be copied to the target server environment, if needed.  These export files can be found on the Shared Services server under \Hyperion\common\import_export\username@directory.

Copy the entire directory (in this example, Essadmin@Native Directory) to the Hyperion\common\import_export directory on the target server.

The import side is where things are more likely to be tricky.  Here you will reverse the process, selecting the export files in proper order (Shared Services, Essbase, Planning & Reporting) and importing them to whatever target is appropriate.

Start the process by logging in to the Shared Services console as the same username you used in the export process.  Under Application Groups–>File System, find the appropriate export files and click “Define Migration.”

Click through the screens, including the SS screen selecting the target application to import to.

On the destination option screen select Create/Update and increase the Max errors if desired (default = 100)…

…and run the migration.

For the Planning import select all to begin.

Click through the screens and select the planning application to import to.

And click through the remaining screens to execute the migration.

The Reporting migration is similar.  Select all the artifacts you want to import.

And go through the remaining screens to execute the migration.

In many cases, especially where you are keeping two identical environments in sync, these migrations should go smoothly and complete without error.  However, at other times, especially when doing an initial migration or one where the security will be much different from one to another, you may have to make several passes at the migration.  When even one item fails to migrate successfully, LCM will send back a status of “Failed”.  Click on that link in the status report and LCM will tell you what items failed to migrate.  All other items will usually have migrated successfully.   You will then have to figure out why the item failed and either fix the problem, work around the problem or ignore it and migrate the item another way.

Here are some things I’ve found which will cause you problems in using LCM:

  • In exporting a planning application with many substitution variables, the EXPORT failed – refusing to export all of the variables.  This was worked around by exporting only the variables and then exporting everything except the variables.
  • OR, you can play with the group count/size settings as well as report and log files location within the migration.properties file.
  • Default settings usually are:
  • grouping.size=100[mb]
  • grouping.size_unknown_artifact_count=10000
  • Using “All Locations” in HBR will cause failure for those forms.
  • Essbase server names—if not same in source & target, you will have to modify the import files for target name.
  • Report Name Length is limited to 131 characters less folder name.
  • Dim members “Marked for Delete” won’t migrate.  You will have to delete them using a SQL query if you want them migrated.
  • Form folders may get re-ordered on migration.  You can work around this by manually adding the folders to the target application in the proper order.  LCM will not reorder existing folders.
  • Doesn’t support parentheses ( ) in form names.  You won’t get an error indication in the export/import – the forms just won’t be there in the imported app.  You’ll have to rename the forms to get them to come over.
  • Member formulas need to be in planning – if just in Essbase they don’t come over.  If this is a one-time migration you can use the EAS migration utility to bring the outline over after the LCM migration.
  • You must manually delete Shared Services groups in the target app if you deleted them in the source app (or they will remain).
  • Reports – you must manually update the data source in the target.
  • Members don’t come over with certain special characters.
  • Doesn’t support Clusters; must use the outline as HBR location.
  • Global Variables with limits in their definition don’t work.

Well, now you should be able to use LCM and judge for yourself whether it is right for your application.  In another BLOG I’ll show how to run LCM in a lights-out mode and also how to do some modifications to the export files so you can do things like sharing dimension detail between planning applications.

Enjoy!

Oh, The Good Old Days…

Who among us has not heard about the “good old” days?  My grandmother regularly peppered my Sunday dinner with stories, sometimes lectures, on how life was a little simpler way back when. However, if you apply some logic, it may be apparent that the premise might not hold water. 

Technology is our revolution which has freed us from monotonous tasks, as well as provided new opportunities for insight and growth. Surprisingly, we need to learn how to free ourselves from our old ways.

So do you still have this on top of your television?

So do you still have this on top of your television?

Take the “Betamax” player.  Aside from taking the space of a small loveseat, it was pretty simple to use.  Press the “on” button, insert the tape and press play. Soon consumers demanded a few more features and we were all graced with the latest and greatest invention of all time, the programmable VCR.

What more could I want in life?  I now had the opportunity to record the debut of the “Thriller” music video while in detention room 101.  However, we all know life is not that simple.  I had to first learn to program the clock, channel and record time.  Those benefits came with a small price to pay.

As a veteran Oracle / Hyperion Instructor, I could train our Oracle / Hyperion Enterprise clients how to press the “on” button, insert the tape and press play in about a week. Following the incredible success of Oracle / Hyperion Enterprise, Pillar and Essbase, clients wanted more features and functionality. 

Oracle / Hyperion Solution’s met the challenges presented by their customers.  With the acquisition of Hyperion by Oracle, the Oracle / Hyperion suite of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) products merges a host of financial, reporting and analysis, and data integrations tools.  These tools have refined how people work and interact with business information.  It has also changed how we must provide training in order to prepare project teams, administrators and end users.

The System 9 and Fusion generation of products touch a much more diverse population of users.  The products range from Executive Dashboards, to administrative budget collection forms and into the Information Technology (IT) back-office environment. 

A one-size fits all training solution is no-longer as effective as it once was, like in the “old days” of desktop reporting.  Now, we need to think about tailored training to meet the needs of each group of users and instruct them on how to most effectively incorporate the technology into their user-specific work day tasks. 

The stepchild of training is managing change. Everyone is “fired-up” during the implementation phase.  Each person striving to learn and understand all there is to know about the new system.  But what happens when some people move on and others move in?   Again, the scope of the latest products demands tailored training to meet the needs of the users, but also a plan to cover the entire cycle of ownership.

The challenge of providing training to an incredibly diverse user base, preparing users for multiple phases of projects, and how to live with and maximize their investment in technology has been exciting.  Training solutions now weave together, printed materials, customized courses; web-based training seminars and re-usable recorded instruction.  Training has become a separate and distinct project unto itself.

The products are not difficult to use, the challenge is ensuring people know how to thoroughly utilize all of the features and functions. Second, to make sure they understand how the technology fits into their daily tasks.

An Oracle / Hyperion competitor used to boast that one of their products was more user-friendly than HFM, and therefore required little training.  That should throw a warning flag to the consumer.  As the Oracle / Hyperion suite is an EPM set of applications, there must be an “enterprise” plan how to manage the needs of the users that the system will touch throughout the cycle of ownership. 

A well-defined training plan must address educational needs across all phases of an implementation.  It cannot be overemphasized that effective preparation can truly play a key role in keeping a project on schedule and budget.  The results are that project leaders can more effectively communicate and understand design decisions.  The members of the project team are able to test, validate and troubleshoot tasks more efficiently.  Lastly, users understand the purpose of the project and how it fits into their daily tasks.

You will find that having a comprehensive training plan will be invaluable when you need to prepare new employees, manage employee movement, and preparing everyone for software upgrades and enhancements.